Does Somaliland Development Fund Go Where Most Needed?

Before analyzing sectors that receive funds from SDF and those that are orphans, let me give you a brief overview about SDF and where it gets funds to enjoy your reading. Somaliland Development Fund (SDF) is a multi-donor framework that consists of DfID, DANIDA, the Government of Norway, and the Dutch Government for channeling development support to the Government of Somaliland. The SDF only implement identified government priorities from National Development Plan (NDP).

Most funds go to the following three pillars in NDP: Infrastructure, Economy, and Social, which are government priorities. The SDF I and II spent approximately $21,383,66 Million on the economic pillar, $55,315,546 Million on the Infrastructure pillar, and $12,920,570 Million on the Social. 

Do not get me wrong, I’m not against building the infrastructure such as water and road networks, investing in the economy like agriculture and fisheries, and financing social sectors like health and education, but I’m just underlining that there are other sectors which are more important and need urgent action at the moment. The government is supposed to put its priority on the following sectors: Governance and youth. Why? 

The governance sector consists of core state functions such as security and rule of law, justice and human right, democratization and decentralization, foreign relations, and international cooperation. Let’s take justice and human right as an example. We all know the justice system in Somaliland and how this sub-sector is straggling. Somaliland uses three different justice systems (formal court systems, customary and sharia law), and all run parallel. If two individuals commit the same crime, they may end up differently. Depending on the form of justice used, one may go to jail another one may set free.

Youth employment is another orphan sector that needs to consider as a priority. Youth unemployment in Somaliland stands at 75%. Somaliland youth faces widespread problems, which include: unemployment, drug abuse (khat and Alcohol), forced irregular migration, lack of quality education and vocational training, health services, etc. 

The government failed to prioritize the most needed sectors that require urgent action because of one or more reasons. The Ministry of National Planning and Development didn’t make enough consultations across regions and reach out to women, youth, and marginalized at the development stage of NDP – a government blueprint that aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

Without active engagement with the citizens, the NDP is worthless. However, the NDP document claims that consultations have been made with Somaliland stakeholders, and I quote here. “It has been developed under the leadership of the Somaliland Ministry of National and Planning and Development (MoNPD) in consultations with Somaliland stakeholders, including the National Planning Commission (NPC), line Ministries, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and implementing partners.” Stakeholders should be more than this. At least, they should invite parliament, local council, and intellectual people from regions and districts. Parliament represents regions and has more knowledge about the issue of their regions. Local councils are also knowledgeable about the issue of their districts. Intellectual people like university lecturers and students can also contribute to the development process of the national document. Now, it seems that the ministry of national planning and Development engineered the national plan. By the way, who are Civil Society Organizations? Do they represent the whole nation? CSOs are Just individuals from NGOs-minded people who have no clue about the national issue. 

Apart from the sectors excluded, MoNDP overlooked Awdal and Salal region to include the national plan. Both NDP I and NDP II didn’t consider the infrastructure issue in Awdal and Salal regions in the development process. The below text from the NDP document could be clear evidence of how the NDP left out some of the regions. “NDP has planned following projects and programs, which The Somaliland Road Authority is planning the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of the following roads and/or bridges during the NDP period: 

Berbera corridor: maintenance and feasibility study; 2. Hargeisa-Berbera paved road; 3.Hargeisa-Kala Baydh paved road; 4. Burao-Ogo paved road; 5. Ogo-Las Anod paved road; 6. Las Anod-Gambadha paved road; 7. Berbera-Burao paved road; 8. Taba road: maintenance; 9. Ainabo-Habariheshay earth road; 10. Hayramadle Bridge: reconstruction; 11. Kala Baydh-Dilla paved road; 12. Burao Bridge: repair work; 13. Afmadobe – Erigavo road; 14. Dilla-Borama road; 15. Eil Sheikh road; Already existing bridges: repair and maintenance; 16. Harti Yimid earth road; 17. Wadamago-Qorilugud road; 18. Las Anod-Hudun road. “ 

From the above project plan, only Dilla-Borama road is in Awdal region, while the rest are Marodijex, Sahil, Togdher, and Sanaag region. And those regions that allocated funds are where most NPC ministers hailed. Some ministers from the National Planning Commission (NPC) lobbied for their regions and districts in NDP. It is disgusting, right! How the country reaches an inclusive economy if ministers in NPC lobbying their regions and districts rather than debating important sectors and fair fund allocations across the regions and the districts? Who to oversight a fair and equal distribution of donor funds for development projects if the Minister of planning is an agent for his specific region and districts? Proper NDP should be debated and sought input from all citizens to produce a comprehensive national plan.

On the other hand, the SDF homepage states the below statement “The Somaliland Development Fund supports the Government of Somaliland to deliver infrastructure that relevant for inclusive economic development” SDFI and II don’t look inclusive. According to the dictionary, Inclusive Economic Development is economic development planning and practice driven by the value of equity, transparency, sustainability, and community engagement. SDF lacks transparency, equity, and community engagement.

The forward page of NDPII documents started with rhetorical words. “NDPII has adopted a human rights-based approach. This is to make sure that all development endeavors in NDPII era are intertwined with upholding universal human rights principles.”  This is such a cliche. After reading from page to page, there is no single project or program for special needed people, women, and minority communities (like Midgan). It is clear that no one from this community invited – they had the right to participate in the decision-making that affecting them. 

As a citizen of donor deprived regions of Awdal and Salal, I would like to recommend the following points to make the SDF and NDP more inclusive:

  • The international community must ensure equal and fair allocation of funds in Somaliland regions. 
  • The NDP should be redrafted, debated, and incorporated comments and inputs from all citizens, including Awdal and Salal region.
  • SDF should be reformed and added to the management regional governors. 
  • Somaliland regions should be allowed to have their fund allocations to implement their projects. 
  • Regional Development Plan should be established, which could be the basis for the NDP. 
  • Ministers in NPC should stop lobbying their regions and districts, but rather than open debate prioritizing important sectors and allocations funds and projects across regions and districts. 

By Abdi Adawe

Abdi Adawe is a policy analyst based in Washington, USA.

You can reach him at dhinbil.adawe@gmail.com